Allen County government’s major legislative priorities for the 2021 session of the Indiana General Assembly include additional assistance to deal with COVID-19 related issues, allowing more local control over the spending of highway funding revenues, increased investment in economic development, and increased support for broadband connectivity in the county. The priorities were developed by the Board of Commissioners and Government
Affairs Director Zackery Sand following discussions with various county elected officials and members of the General Assembly.
COVID-19 has presented financial and operational challenges as county governments continue providing critical services to Hoosiers. The Board of Commissioners supports liability protections for COVID related claims, local funding flexibility and additional assistance to cover the costs associated with the pandemic. Allen County opposes any state mandates that supersede local authority, especially if the mandate is unfunded by the state.
Professional Sports And Convention Development Area (Pscda) Funding Flexibility
The Allen County PSCDA is a vital economic development tool for the county and the region. Allen County’s current PSCDA provides $2.6 million in revenue annually to the War Memorial Coliseum and $400,000 to the Grand Wayne Center. The Board of Commissioners supports an increase in the threshold to collect revenue and the ability to allow a small percentage of the revenue to be used for operating expenses.
Motor Vehicle Highway Funding Flexibility And Sustainability
The Motor Vehicle Highway fund is a primary source of revenue for the Allen County Highway Department. This revenue source is predominantly collected at the pump by the state and then distributed to cities, towns and counties. Currently, the fund requires that half of the funds be spent on specific uses. The Board of Commissioners supports flexibility in the 50% rule to increase decision-making and fiscal flexibility at the local level.
Additionally, the commissioners support policies that will continue long-term and sustainable funding for road and transportation initiatives.
In the COVID-19 era, broadband connectivity and access is more critical now than ever before. Internet access is essential to attracting a global workforce, empowering students in and out of the classroom, expanding access to healthcare, and overall quality of life. The Board of Commissioners supports direct grant awards to county governments, partnerships to increase access and state-wide mapping to better understand the need.
“Despite reduced revenues from the impact of COVID-19, the Indiana General Assembly is in a great position to lead because of Indiana’s fiscal responsibility as it prepares for the 2021 legislative session,” Sand said. “This will allow the state to continue its investments in local governments in supporting criminal justice initiatives, public health, transportation and economic development including broadband in the next budget.”